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for I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I
was sick, and
visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Matt. xxv. 31-36.
to Watchfulness;“Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to have been broken up. Therefore, be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” Matt. xxiv. 42, 44.
“Watch therefore: for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.” Matt. xxv. 13.
“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.” Luke xii. 35, 37.
“Behold I come as a thief: blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Rev. xvi. 15.
“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief: ye are all the children of light and of the day: we are not of night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others: but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thess. v. 4, 6.
“Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this Book.” Rev. xxii. 7.
to Palience and Long-suffering; “We'ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure; which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, &c.” 2 Thess. i. 4—7.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise: for yet a little while and He that shall come will come and will not tarry.” Heb. X. 36, 37.
“Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient-stablish your hearts - for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." James v. 7, 8.
“Wherein (in the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time) ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” i Pet. i. 6, 7.
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Pet. iv. 12, 13.
to Moderation and Sobriety;“Let your moderation be known unto all men: the Lord is al hand."
Phil. iv. 5. “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Pet. i. 13.
to ministerial Fidelity and Diligence. “Who is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” Matt. xxiv. 46.
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming?" 1 Thess. ii. 19.
“I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things; and before Jesus Christ, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Tim. vi. 13, 14.
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and doctrine. 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2.
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you; taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock: and when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 1 Peter v, 1—4.
Aguinst censorious Judgment. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, &c." 1 Cor. iv. 5.
I reserve those passages which practically improve the doctrine of the Resurrection of the saints, until I come to treat more fully on that subject: in the mean while I earnestly beseech the reader, especially if he be a minister, dispassionately to consider what has been already advanced. It may be that in regard to some five or six texts, he may differ from me, as to their interpretation and consequent pertinence: but the great mass of evidence is such, as I am persuaded cannot be successfully controverted.
I would therefore humbly but seriously ask, Is the general tone or style of preaching consistent with these extracts? Has not the wisdom of man substituted its own invention for the wisdom of God? I grant that to the nalural man an object of sense will always appear better suited to exercise a practical influence, than an object of faith; and therefore, to press home upon the thoughtless the certainty of death, of the truth of which event they have daily evidence, will seem a more likely method of awakening them, than to plead an Advent and a Resurrection. But to act thus is surely inconsistent in the spiritual man, who is the minister of a Gospel that especially addresses itself to the eye of faith: and a ministry thus conducted must be proportionably less fruitful, than one which more implicitly relies on what is written.
I say not that death is altogether an unscriptural subject of exhortation; but that it is a truth not to be compared, in regard to its prominency, with the Advent, Resurrection, &c. I admit, also, that so far as the mere determination of a man's future condition is concerned, the day of his death is virtually to him as the day of resurrection or judgment: but without entering into the proof, that it is not so influential in other respects, it ought to be enough for every christian mind to know, that it is not the Scripture mode of stating these truths. It is very proper as a private opinion, or in the way of additional argument; but the reverse is acted upon: this private opinion has ejected the testimony of the Spirit from its place in the pulpit; and the Advent and Resurrection and Kingdom of Christ are degraded to the private station.
May the voice of the betrothed spouse of Christ again be heard, crying, with the Spirit, COME! May those who have the first fruits of the Spirit be found in every instance "groaning within themselves, and waiting for the adoption,-lo wit, the redemplion of their body!”
The Kingdom of Christ.
In proceeding to the more immediate consideration of the Millennium, the circumstance which I shall first notice is the KINGDOM, concerning which so much is said in the Scriptures; and in regard to which I must beg the patient attention of the reader, while I endeavour to lead him step by step through what is written respecting it. If our views are not clear upon this point, we shall never arrive at a proper conclusion in regard to other matters. For the view to be taken of the doctrines of the Advent and Kingdom of Christ, and of the Resurrection of the saints, depends not (as some would insist) upon doubtful passages in the Book of Revelation; nor shall I rest my interpretation upon any symbolical or merely figurative texts: but if there are passages in the Word of God, which must be understood in a plain and literal sense, (abating of course that tropical use of words, which is inseparable from ordinary conversation,) to such I shall appeal, and by such I purpose to direct my course.
I. I need not occupy time by proving, that the Messiah or Christ, according to the Old Testament Scriptures, was to be a king, as well as prophet and priest; and that in various places, more especially in the Book of Daniel, the said Scriptures speak of the dominion and power which should be given him. A slight acquaintance only with the New Testament will likewise satisfy us, that the Jewish mind was prepossessed with the notion of a king and a kingdom, connected with their Messiah. Thus Nathaniel, when brought to believe in Jesus, confessed, “Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel."a Thus, when the Lord exhibited his power by feeding the five thousand, the whole multitude would have taken him by force and made him king, had he not withdrawn from them. Thus again, when he rode into Jerusalem on the ass, the people cried: “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord.' And what is more to the point, when Christ was accused before Pilate for claiming to be a king, he plainly declared that he was a King, and that he expected a kingdom.d
It must be still more obvious to persons familiar with the New Testament, that it does continually and almost exclu
. John i. 49. b John vi. 15. c Mark xi. 10 and Luke xix. 38. d John xviii, 36, 37.
sively refer the blessings and the glory therein announced to this kingdom. Jesus we are told went about preaching the Gospel (or glad tidings) of the kingdom in all the cities and villages of Judea ;' he sent his disciples to preach the same;' he spake of the things pertaining to it after his resurrection;s St. Paul resolves his preaching into the same subject;" and, in brief, the whole Word of God is called "the Word of the king
Against this part of the statement an objection must be no. ticed: viz. that “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven" are constantly spoken of in Scripture; but that these cannot mean “the kingdom of the Son of Man," or of “Christ.” A comparison however of scripture testimonies will shew, that these expressions all refer to one and the same kingdom.
For instance; that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are one and the same, will be evident from a comparison of the following parallel passages.
St. Matthew says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of headen:”k St. Luke says, "Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Again St. Matthew says, "It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven:”m the parallel passage in St. Mark is, “unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.”'n The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is indeed a form of speech peculiar to St. Matthew, and only to be met with in his Gospel: the same thing being invariably called by Mark and Luke “kingdom of God.” And even St. Matthew himself uses the two phrases indiscriminately in the following passage: “Verily I you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of headen. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
That the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Christ are the same, will appear from a similar process. Speaking of the Transfiguration, St. Matthew says, “Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom:”P which latter sentence St. Luke has—"till they see the kingdom of God;'q and St. Mark—"till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
Again, in the parable of the tares, St. Matthew says, “that at the end of the world the Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend;" and immediately he adds, "then shall the
e Matt. ix. 35. ILuke ix. 2. & Acts i. 3. i Matt. xiii, 19. Matt. v. 3. I Luke vi. 20. iv. 11. Matt. xix, 23, 24. p Matt. xvi. 28.
h Acts xx. 25; xxviii. 23, 31.
m Matt. xiii. 11. n Mark 9 Luke ix. 27. Mark ix. 1.